There has been a great deal of discussion about Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the playing of the National Anthem and others who have followed suit. And while he, like all Americans, has freedom of choose, he doesn’t enjoy freedom from consequences. The truth is that most others do not share his method or mindset, and they often hold the purse strings.

To be clear, I am not taking a political stance or even making a racial commentary. In my “business marketing” mindset, this is a communications issue.

In choosing an act (sitting during the national anthem) that is so abhorrent to so many Americans, Colin and others who support him, have made what I believe to be a miscalculation. Rather than shining a light on the important issue of racial injustice, they have turned the attention and the outrage on themselves. Many of the people they need to wake up and listen, are now so angry or disappointed, that they are predisposed to ignore or reject much of what they have to say.

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Some years back, I recall an animal rights activist in Denver named Robin Duxbury. She was so steadfast in her belief in the value of the lives and feeling of animals, that her controversial (read absurd) assertions overshadowed the very worthy cause she supported. When she proclaimed to the press something along the lines of: “A person is a valuable as a horse, as a dog, as a cat, as a fly, and as flea, and none deserved priority over the others,” she lost all credibility.

Of course animal rights, and to a much greater extent, the rights of oppressed minorities, are very important issues. Unfortunately, the messengers too often dilute the message. When those, who we need to be sympathetic to our cause for change to occur, are repelled by the form of the message, the effort fails.  In this way Kaepernic has failed. While he has succeeded in getting the country to take notice, by and large, they have taken notice, not of the cause, but of him and his perceived disrespect to the flag and the country they love.

Lest you think that I “don’t get it,” be clear that my commentary is not on the merits of the cause, but on the manner of it’s marketing. They may feel as if their sacrifice is worth the price they are paying. I would submit that there are a hundred better ways of spending their celebrity brand equity, communicate their message and bringing others to their cause. Angering and offending 300 million fellow Americans was not among them.

Despite the trite assertions, all news is not good news and all PR is not good PR and too often important messages are being lost for the messenger.

David Avrin, CSP speaks around the world on marketing and strategic brand development. A celebrated author and business consultant, he is the author of: It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows You! and his latest book: Visibility Marketing (2016 Career Press) Learn more and watch a preview at www.VisibilityInternational.com

 

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